Get Energy Boosts and Other Yerba Mate Tea Benefits Today

yerba mate tea

Story at-a-glance -

  • Yerba mate is a tea brewed from the stems and branches of the Ilex paraguariensis, a plant that originates from South America
  • Yerba mate contains high levels of antioxidants, minerals and other nutrients that may help the body achieve a better state of health
  • While yerba mate may seem like a good choice for energy boosts during the day, it might still cause some of the same side effects as coffee

If you've ever been to South America, you've probably noticed a few people sipping a drink from a round cup with a metal straw. There's a high chance that this is yerba mate, a popular energizing tea.

What Is Yerba Mate Tea?

Yerba mate is brewed from the stems and branches of the Ilex paraguariensis, a plant that originates from South America.1 Yerba mate tea, or simply "mate," is especially popular in South American countries, such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Paraguay, as a shared caffeine-rich beverage.

The practice of drinking mate in groups is well-known and symbolizes friendship and hospitality. This tea infusion is typically served in a hollowed-out calabaza gourd with a metal straw, called a "bombilla."2

Aside from its cultural symbolism, yerba mate is also famous for its numerous components, including antioxidants and biological compounds.3 In fact, these components contribute to several health benefits.

Brew a Cup and Get These Yerba Mate Tea Benefits

Yerba mate contains high levels of antioxidants, minerals and other nutrients that may help your body achieve a better health stature. The high concentration of nutrients in yerba mate may:

  • Provide an energy boost Yerba mate tea contains caffeine, but in a much lower amount compared to coffee. Caffeine is able to promote cognitive function and focus even during times of extended periods of wakefulness.4
  • May help combat oxidative stress Yerba mate contains a surplus of antioxidants, which may help protect your body from free radicals and possible DNA damage, which are contributing factors to the emergence of numerous chronic diseases.5
  • May help improve exercise effectivity — A 2014 study found that yerba mate ingestion may help improve exercise effectivity by improving energy expenditure and fatty acid oxidation.6

The soluble form of yerba mate is also used to stop the growth of foodborne pathogens because of its antimicrobial properties. A 2011 study shows that yerba mate can reduce microbial activity of both Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus.7

Here Are the Nutrition Facts of Yerba Mate

The calories in yerba mate can vary depending on the product you're ingesting. Some have as low as 5 calories per serving,8 while others can have as much as 35 calories.

According to Fitday, yerba mate offers vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates, but has little or no fat and protein. A 2012 study published in Laboratory Animal Research also noted that yerba mate contains numerous active phytochemicals, which include flavonoids, amino acids, xanthines (caffeine and theobromine), polyphenols (chlorogenic acid) and purine alkaloids (caffeic acid, 3,4-dicaffeoylquinic acid, and 3,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid).9

Does Yerba Mate Tea Contain Caffeine?

Yes it does. Thanks to its caffeine content, yerba mate has become popular for its energy-boosting characteristics, which may help alleviate mental and physical exhaustion.

But while the effects of yerba mate may be comparable to coffee, it contains a lower caffeine content. A cup of yerba mate contains approximately 85 milligrams of caffeine,10 compared to coffee's 163 milligrams.11 However, if you're caffeine-sensitive, it would be best that you veer away from this drink to avoid the numerous side effects and complications it may cause.

Start Drinking Yerba Mate Tea by Following These Instructions

Yerba mate may be brewed in two ways: the traditional way, or by using teabags or a French press. If you want to brew yerba mate tea traditionally, you would need to get your hands on a bombilla and a mate cup. Here's how you can brew your first batch:12

  1. Take your clean mate cup or gourd and fill one-third or half of it with yerba mate leaves.
  2. Shake the gourd lightly to redistribute the leaves, leaving the powdery bits on the base of the mate.
  3. Tilt the gourd so the tea leaves are leaning on one side of the cup. Pour cold water on the hollow part of the mate.
  4. Put the bombilla in the hollow space of the mate. Let the yerba mate leaves absorb the cold water.
  5. Once the cold water is fully absorbed, pour in hot water (ideally 165 to 175 degrees Fahrenheit in temperature).

If you're sharing this drink with other people, the mate gourd is traditionally passed from person to person, with the cup being refilled with hot water for each person who arrives. This process will continue until the brew eventually loses its strength and flavor.

However, if you don't have a mate cup, don't fret. You can still make this tea if you have a French press. Here's a guide from The Spruce:13

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of yerba mate leaves
  • 16 ounces of hot water (About 150 degrees Fahrenheit)

Procedure:

  1. Place the yerba mate leaves into the filter of the French press.
  2. Pour the hot water over the yerba water, allowing the water to pass through the filter.
  3. Steep for 4 to 6 minutes, longer if you want the brew to be stronger.
  4. Press on the plunger to separate the leaves from the tea. Serve.

Follow These Tips on How to Properly Store Yerba Mate Tea Leaves

Proper storage of tea leaves or tea bags may be one of the most essential factors when it comes to tea drinking, especially as this controls how long the tea leaves stay viable. Not only that, but proper storage will also ensure that the strength of the tea does not fade easily. To make sure that you're keeping your tea leaves stored properly, here are some pointers you should keep in mind:14

  • Make sure you buy tea leaves that were harvested in the same year. This will ensure that your supply will be viable for the full expected shelf life.
  • Keep your tea leaves in opaque airtight containers, ideally containers made of ceramic or glass, to avoid materials and other odors from compromising the tea leaves' flavor.
  • Store containers in a cool, dry area, such as a low cupboard. Make sure that you keep them away from direct sunlight or other sources of heat.

Watch Out for These Possible Yerba Mate Side Effects

Yerba mate may seem like an impressive tea, but this doesn't mean that it won't cause certain side effects if taken in excess. Remember that moderation is key to good health. While yerba mate may seem like a good choice for energy boosts during the day, it might still cause some of the side effects akin to coffee, namely:15

  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Increased heart rate and breathing

There are also some instances when the ingestion of yerba mate should be limited because of the possible repercussions it may cause. If you fall under any of the categories below, it would be best that you avoid yerba mate:16

Pregnant or breastfeeding women — Pregnant women should limit their intake of caffeine because it has the ability to permeate the placenta, leading to increased levels of caffeine in the unborn child.17

Patients with hypertension — Yerba mate's caffeine content may cause blood pressure to rise, which may make it hard for hypertension patients to regulate their blood pressure.18

Alcoholics and tobacco smokers — Yerba mate intake, together with alcohol and tobacco intake, may heighten your risk of mouth and esophageal cancer. Although this may be partly due to the high temperatures that yerba mate is usually consumed in.19

People with anxiety disorders — In rare cases, yerba mate may cause anxiety symptoms to worsen due to its caffeine content.

Inflammatory bowel disease patients — Yerba mate's caffeine content may trigger a negative response in the gut and worsen diarrhea and other symptoms of IBD.20

People with osteoporosis or weak bones Studies show that caffeine has the ability to leach the calcium off the bones, which may contribute to the gradual wasting of the bones in patients with osteoporosis.21

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Yerba Mate Tea

Q: Is yerba mate green tea?

A: Green tea is brewed from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant.22 As an herbal tea, yerba mate is sourced from the leaves of the Ilex paraguariensis plant.23

Q: Where can I buy yerba mate tea?

A: There are numerous health stores that now have yerba mate tea on their shelves. If you're not near any natural health food stores, you can obtain some from a handful of online stores. However, make sure that you're getting yerba mate from trustworthy sources to ensure you get the highest quality product.

Q: Does yerba mate have caffeine?

A: Yes, but its caffeine content is lower than coffee. It has approximately 85 milligrams of caffeine per serving, but this amount may vary from cup to cup.24

Q: Is yerba mate safe to drink when pregnant?

A: There are insufficient studies to clearly prove that yerba mate is safe during pregnancy or when breastfeeding due to its caffeine content. To be safe, pregnant women and nursing moms should avoid drinking this tea to avoid possible complications.25